By David Thomas on July 28, 2014
Any car owner will tell you the cost of driving does not begin or end with the sticker price or the monthly payment notice arriving in the mailbox. There's insurance, maintenance and yes, the cost of gasoline.
The competitors in our Cheap Speed Challenge may be relatively affordable considering their performance chops, but six of the eight require premium gasoline. Going into the contest, mileage didn't seem like it would be much of a story.
After a 220-plus-mile route through Wisconsin and Illinois that mixed in winding country roads, city streets and plenty of construction-laden highways, we discovered mileage was indeed worth talking about in this class.
The eight cars averaged more than 30 mpg during this test; 30.88 mpg to be exact, according to the trip computers that we used for scoring purposes. The calculated result at the pump was 30.05 mpg. We've written before on the pros and cons of both formulas.
The results were pretty astounding as the EPA highway ratings average 31.65 mpg and city/highway combined is 26.88 mpg. Our routes perhaps slightly favored highway ratings, but we also drove however we were inclined. This was no hypermiling excursion. That means some of us certainly used the right pedal without much restraint.
Clearly, the heavy use of turbochargers has led to owners getting to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to performance trade-offs.
Testing notes: All eight vehicles were filled before and after the trip at the same gas pump whether using premium or regular gasoline. The cars were driven with windows up and air conditioning on. Eight drivers rotated between the eight cars to accommodate differing driving styles.
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David